You want the best for your parents or loved one. To help them age well, it’s important to understand that wellness is much more than just physical health, and to know how you can encourage and empower them to thrive.
What Is Senior Wellness?
According to the National Wellness Institute, “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” It’s not simply about being free from illness. It’s about the choices one makes that strengthen the body, mind, and spirit. As each of these things impacts the others, there can be serious consequences if older adults fall short in any area.
Here are some ways to help your aging loved one find and make the kinds of choices that can have them living at their best.
According to the World Health Organization, seniors who are physically active have lower mortality rates, higher levels of functional and cognitive health, and are less likely to have heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.
- Older bodies don’t move like they used to, so it’s important to have options that are geared for older adults. Look for senior-friendly, low-impact exercise opportunities such as walking, water fitness, tai chi, or chair yoga. Make sure fitness centers have equipment and classes designed specifically for seniors, as well as trainers with a background in senior fitness.
- Nutritional needs change as one ages, so having regular access to a variety of nutritious meals created with seniors in mind is also key to a healthier body. Because many seniors living alone don’t eat as well as they should, having a community with a good dining program and plenty of healthy choices is important.
Keeping the mind and memory sharp is important for a higher quality of life. While activities such as crossword puzzles and some brain games can be helpful, there’s more to maintaining cognitive function. A study from the University of Texas at Dallas found that memory function in seniors is improved by regularly doing tasks that require active engagement and are challenging, such as learning a new skill.
- Look for opportunities for your loved one to keep learning. Attendance at lectures and seminars, and exposure to new cultures and concepts are interesting ways to keep the mind stimulated and engaged.
- Encourage them to participate in community-run classes for art, photography, foreign languages or music, as well as book clubs and current event discussion groups.
A report from the American Society on Aging states that a person doesn’t have to be religious to be spiritual. While faith can play a part in this dimension of wellness, “older adults’ spirituality is the sum total of all their past experiences, all dreamed dreams, all struggles that expand personal insight, all happy moments, all successes and failures.” Nurturing this core aspect of life can help them be more emotionally healthy, and find more meaning and purpose in life.
- If faith has played an important part in your loved one’s life, make sure they can regularly attend services and activities at a house of worship. Some senior living communities are faith-based and provide many opportunities to engage in spiritual practices on-site.
- Finding purpose and peace with the world around them is another way to encourage the spiritual dimension of life in older adults. Volunteering, teaching, or mentoring others are good opportunities to put this into practice.
- Staying socially engaged with others is critical for emotional (and physical) well-being. Multiple studies show that older adults with strong social networks and high levels of social activity are less likely to experience the effects of social isolation such as depression, chronic illness, and cognitive decline. Look for communities that foster social interaction through activities and programs, and provide opportunities to engage with residents, friends, and family members.
You have one family. We have one purpose – to care for them like ours. If you have questions about how Frank Residences can help your loved one thrive and age well, fill out the form on this page, or call 415.689.6565.